CHAPTER ONE

Maria was surrounded by streamers. She was decorating for the spring fling dance. It was the hottest event of the school year. Students looked forward to it all year. Maria was one of four finalists to plan the dance. Her classmates voted her in. She was in charge of each detail. The streamers were her idea. They would help fit the Hawaiian theme. She was having the time of her life.

At five, the gym was closed. They had a week to decorate for the dance. They didn't have to be there the whole time. Maria went to her car. She was the last one out so she was alone. She dropped her eyes. When she picked them up, she noticed a shadow. She turned to see Molly.

Molly embodied the punk look. Black hair with pink highlights, black clothes, and black fishnet gloves. Her lipstick was dark red. Her eyes still weren't visible. Maria looked to where they were supposed to be. Molly put her finger over her lips.

"Why would I scream?" Maria asked. Molly shrugged, "Typical reaction. Look, I'm just here to talk. Will you drive me to a better location? You shouldn't be seen with me," she said. Maria was confused. Why wouldn't she want to be seen out with Molly? She might look punk but she wasn't bad. At least Maria didn't see her that way.

She obeyed. She drove them to a warehouse nearby. They parked around back. Molly liked the location. She offered Maria a cigarette. Maria asked her not to smoke at all. Molly agreed. She put the pack away. She apologized for being so nervous. Maria demanded answers.

Molly gave them, "Okay, I know I'm acting so sketch right now, but it's needed, okay? I am so fucking sick of all these popular girls taking over the world. They keep turning me into the school counsellors because of how I look. So I like the color black. What of it?" she ranted. She turned to Maria, "I need your help to get back at these bastards. They think everything in life is so perfect. Well, I want to prove them wrong."

"How do I play into this?" Maria asked. Molly looked away, "Well, I want you to help me make this work. You're the one planning the dance, putting everything together. The night before, you'll be allowed to stay super late to work on the dance, and that's when I want you to help me sabotage everything."

Maria was confused, "Sabotage? We're not setting the gym on fire, are we?" she asked. Molly scoffed, "No! Why does everyone think we're so into fire because we wear black? You've let these people corrupt you, Maria. I remember you at Lakewood Middle. You were so punk, so Goth. It was great. Then you decided popular was more important than your roots. You let them corrupt you, and now it's time to prove you were always one of us. You're the youngest kid in your family, the most misunderstood. Come on, you have to want the same things I do."

"I want things not to be so important, the fashion things," Maria whispered. She looked to Molly, "Okay, so you want to do something big at the dance, and you want me to help. Okay, I'm willing to look into everything. But I need a scapegoat. If there are no suspects, it looks like I did it. If anyone finds out you were there, you'll be under the gun."

"I've already got it covered," Molly sneered. "The football team is planning a prank for the next morning. They'll be blamed for the sabotage, not either one of us. As long as you get out of there at the right time, no one will suspect you of anything. So, are you in?" Molly asked.

Maria was reluctant. She was eager to please. She liked being popular. But she wasn't being herself. Her clothes were just things her grandmother liked to send her. Everyone else wanted her to be popular. Her own mom could care less. She just wanted Maria to graduate, to get out of the house. She'd also cover for her if anything happened. Her mom would want any problems to go away.

"And you're sure the football team is going to act," Maria said. Molly nodded. Maria sighed, "Well, I guess…I'm in. Tell me everything."

And Molly did.

Maria put up the last of the decorations. The inflated hula girl went onstage. The disco ball was hung. And at ten o'clock, Maria left. Molly met her at the back door. She wore all black. She was invisible on the moonless night. A few more kids went in with her. They also wore black. The door was locked behind them. Molly would work on that later. First, they had to place the sabotages.

Maria went home. She used an online camera to watch Lakewood High's parking lot. At eleven, the football team arrived. They were in four separate cars. None of them had their headlights on. They wore all black. They threw toilet paper everywhere. They used chalk to write on everything. It was mass confusion. Molly and the gang easily left.

Despite things, Maria slept easy. She knew no one would know. She knew no one would suspect her. And most important, she knew the popular kids would get what they deserve.